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COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates and Guidance

The County is taking a number of actions to keep residents safe and minimize the spread of COVID-19. Find status information for County operations and services.

Reforestation and Tree Planting Programs

Planting trees is one of the single best things we can do to protect the environment and beautify our communities and rural areas. Trees clean the air and water, capture carbon from the atmosphere, reduce erosion, provide habitat for birds and other wildlife, increase property values and much more.

Help Us Add 5,000 Trees by Earth Day 2021

the program logo.
Every 5,000 trees planted reduces 250,000
pounds of greenhouse gasses per year.

The Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability (EPS) is interested in working with residents, landowners and communities in Baltimore County to increase our tree canopy and help our environment by offering free tree planting programs.

We'll Plant for You, or You Can DIY

See below for free programs where our crew will plant trees on your land. The minimum planting area is one-tenth of an acre or more, and we do not plant evergreens, or provide landscaping or privacy screening trees. If you prefer to do it yourself, you can record the tree locations on the Environmental Reporter Web Application map, so they will count toward our goal of 1,000 newly planted trees by Earth Day 2021. 

Free Tree-Planting Programs

There are no costs to homeowners or landowners for native trees planted through the County's tree-planting programs. These programs help the County meet tree-planting goals and requirements. Native tree species are carefully selected by EPS for factors such as ecosystem functions, mature size, native range, safety and aesthetics. EPS provides a Forest Management Species list of trees (PDF) used in its reforestations and urban tree plantings. EPS will work with landowners to ensure suggestions are incorporated in final planting plans where possible so long as those species can meet the selection criteria.

Turf to Trees—One Acre or More

Converting lawn to forest reduces the cost of mowing and adds value to a property. The Turf to Trees program (PDF) includes rural reforestations of one acre or larger. This area should be open space (lawn or grass) away from utility easements, Forest Conservation Easements, septic, and septic reserves. Approximately 200 trees are planted per acre spaced 15 feet apart. Trees are planted in staggered rows for ease of seasonal mowing. Trees are equipped with stakes and shelters to protect them from deer and pest damage.

Trees are maintained by County-selected contractors for an initial three years of maintenance. Maintenance includes seasonal mowing, vine and invasive species suppression, and stake and shelter upkeep. Maintenance may also include watering during times of heavy drought and the use of pesticides or herbicides. To ensure long-term survival, the County will monitor and may conduct maintenance and replacement plantings, as needed, after the contractor maintenance period.

To get started, contact EPS using the Reforestation Property Form. If your application meets our requirements, we will schedule a site visit to determine feasibility of planting. Unless requested, homeowners do not need to be present during the scheduled site visit. If conditions are deemed favorable to ensure tree survival, EPS will develop a planting plan and initiate the planting.

Backyard Trees—One-Tenth of an Acre or More

Backyard Trees is a modified version of our Turf to Trees program for County residents who do not have an acre or more to plant. Twenty (one-tenth of an acre) to 145 trees (three-fourths of an acre) will be planted and equipped with deer protection by County-selected contractors. Property owners will be responsible for maintaining the trees and reporting their survival to EPS.

For more information and to get started, complete and email the Backyard Trees Application (PDF) to forestmanagement@baltimorecountymd.gov or mail it to:

Attention: Forest Management
111 West Chesapeake Avenue, Room 319
Towson, Maryland 21204

Applications are currently being accepted for the spring of 2021 tree plantings. The deadline has been extended, and applications must be received by January 31, 2021.

Urban Tree Canopy Expansion—Managed Grounds and Communities

A landscape tree.
An example of a landscape tree.

The Urban Tree Canopy Expansion Program is for managed grounds and urban communities (street trees) where reforestations are not appropriate.

This program includes landscape style trees spaced approximately 30 feet apart. Landscape style trees are 1.5 to two-inch in diameter at breast height and are typically taller than five feet. The tree comes equipped with stakes, a mower guard, bark protector and mulch. The maintenance of the grass beneath the tree remains the same.

Trees are planted and maintained for one year by County-selected contractors. Each project must include 15 trees or more and EPS only plants canopy trees under this program. For community-wide projects, EPS works closely with a community representative on outreach. For more information on our Urban Tree Canopy Expansion Program, download our fact sheet for landscape style plantings (PDF).

Reforestation Helps Protect the Bay and Our Environment

Reforestation is a practice in forestry used to reestablish forest cover. When EPS uses the term reforestation, we are referring to planting approximately 200 trees per acre spaced 15 feet apart. Trees are typically two- to five-gallon containerized trees when planted. The understory of the reforestation, typically grass, is no longer maintained on a regular mowing schedule.

  • Tree canopies intercept and help treat stormwater, decreasing runoff and reducing the amount of nutrients and sediment flowing into nearby storm drains, rivers and streams—all of which eventually enter the Bay.
  • In big tree species, such as red oak or swamp white oak, a single two-foot diameter tree can intercept as much as 8,000 gallons of stormwater per year.
  • Tree roots stabilize soil, decreasing erosion and sediment that pollutes the Bay.
  • Shade from trees keeps streams cool and crisp, guarding against the growth of bacteria and increasing the diversity of stream organisms, including cold-water fish like trout. 
  • Trees recharge and improve groundwater quality (used for drinking water) by increasing water infiltration into the soil, which cleanses stormwater of pollutants.
  • Trees mitigate climate change and purify the air. According to the USDA, “one acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.”
  • Trees provide wildlife foods that are an integral part of the food chain. For example, hundreds of caterpillar species that feed primarily on oak foliage are a critical staple food for the hatchlings of many perching birds in eastern forests. Acorns produced by oaks sustain numerous wildlife species in the winter when other food sources are scarce.
  • Trees decrease energy costs. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, “trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20 to 50 percent in energy used for heating.”
  • Trees increase property values by softening the hard lines of building structures with foliage. The USDA Forest Service estimates that healthy mature trees can increase a property’s value by 10 percent.
 
Revised January 6, 2021         

 

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Use the Environmental Reporter Web Application to help the County track private tree plantings, private rain barrel installations and midges.

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